We sweat a whole lot while we ate lunch at this lovely Szechuan resto in Nanluoguxiang, one of Beijing's trendy hutongs. And we drank a fair amount of beer. And it wasn't because we were feeling the heat from outside, but rather from a few of the dishes we'd picked from the wide array of entrees on the menu.
OK, the fragrant wonton soup was perfectly mild ...
... as were the traditionally spiced (not chile spice but more like a five-spice .... I detected a hint of anise in there among others) Szechuan ribs that came suspended on calligraphy brush handles.
These were the super hotties: a pork and celery combo (top left) cooked in chile oil, whose heat was only slightly eased by its vinegary component; mabo tofu—cubes of tofu stir-fried with a dice of hot chiles, more chile flakes and a fine grind of pork meat (top right); and dry-fried green beans tossed up with large cuts of blow-your-ears-out chiles.
All were really wonderfully delightful—well-seasoned and spiced, and just on the right (or would that be left?) side of so-hot-you-can't-taste-a-damn-thing-anymore. Thank god for white rice ... and ice cold beer.